What Films and TV Shows Were Filmed in Tonga?
The truth is not much. Unlike its South Pacific neighbours, Tonga is no movie star. Nevertheless, Tonga has certainly been the subject of some movies and TV shows, from wildlife documentaries in the BBC’s Life to bizarre comedies like Tongan Ninja. While Tonga hasn’t been the inspiration for fictional films, its natural landscapes, wildlife and culture have certainly been interesting subjects for various documentaries. So check out what TV shows and movies have been filmed in Tonga in the list below.
1. BBC Life (2009)
The renowned wildlife documentary from the BBC, narrated by David Attenborough, filmed their humpback whale portions of “Life” in Tonga. In episode three, Mammals, the seas around Tonga were used for filming the nursery and mating ground of humpback whales. The British TV show films a humpback heat run where a female leads potential suitors on a chase. The scene was filmed in Vava’u. Learn more about having your own whale encounters in The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga.
2. Tongan Ninja (2002)
An action-comedy movie co-starry Flight of the Conchords star, Jemaine Clement, Tongan Ninja features Tonga in, ahem, all its glory? The plot is about a young boy who gets stranded in Tonga in a plane crash, his father gets eaten by a fish, and he trains to be a ninja… Then he ends up going to New Zealand for more nonsense to occur.
3. Treasure Island (1997)
Despite Tonga having a resort called Treasure Island, it’s not to be confused with the reality TV show filmed in the Kingdom by the same name. The show, which originated in New Zealand in 1997, had contestants isolated on a remote Tongan island in the very early seasons. Later in the show’s history, filming moved to Fiji. Contestants would play for a cash prize.
4. Shipwrecked: Season 2 (2001)
A similar format to the show mentioned above, Shipwrecked was a British reality TV show where young contestants would have to survive on an island with no competition or prize (although later renditions of the series add these elements). The second season of the original series was filmed in Tonga.
5. Pacific Warriors (2015)
This British documentary looks behind the scenes of Pacific Island rugby teams and their players. It explores the backgrounds of rugby players in Tonga, Samoa and Fiji. If you can’t find the show online (we can’t), at least you can learn more about the Tongan culture in The Guide to the Tongan Culture and Traditions.
6. Somewhere in Tonga (2017)
Somewhere in Tonga is a German film following a social worker, Wolski, who attempts to give a criminal teenager a second chance by living on an uninhabited island with him. The movie features plenty of Tongan scenes and culture to inspire anyone wanting to see more of the islands. The movie is based on a true story.
7. Vai (2019)
Travel the South Pacific Islands through eight storylines in this feature film by nine female Pacific filmmakers and filmed across seven countries. Each story in the anthology follows a woman called Vai (or a variation of the name) in the islands of Tonga, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Samoa, Niue, Kuki Airani (Cook Islands) and Aotearoa (New Zealand).
More About Tonga
That’s it for our list of TV shows and movies filmed in Tonga. For more about the islands, check out the following articles:
- The Guide to the Tongan Language
- The 10 Largest Islands in Tonga
- 10 Travel Gadgets & Accessories for a Tropical Holiday